A trip to PRACTICA, home of ideas and innovations

In January, one of our Kenyan team was able to visit our R&D centre in the Netherlands, he writes about his experiences in this staff blog below.

In January, I travelled to The Netherlands for the (YEP) Young Expert Programme organised by Netherlands Water Partnership. The YEP programme brings together young adults from all over the world who have experience in the water and agri-food sector, it is an opportunity for us to come together and exchange knowledge. During this training period, I also had the exciting opportunity to visit PRACTICA , an organisation founded in the early 2000’s with the mission to strengthen the skills and tools in low and middle-income countries in the areas of rural water supply, irrigation, groundwater development, and sanitation. It is also, as many of you may know, where the initial R&D work which bears the Futurepump solar pumps is conducted.

On my visit, I was hoping to learn how they conduct their daily operations and I was excited to learn from experts in the water engineering field. I was also looking forward to seeing any of the new technologies that the team are working on. This is especially important to me as my role in the Kenyan team is to conduct field testing of new products and report back to the R&D teams.

My day at PRACTICA

We started the day with a productive discussion over a new sprinkler system that we have been testing in Kenya. Reporting back my field-testing findings to the R&D team in person was something I was very keen to do. Field testing is always an important element of product development, and one which we at Futurepump think is essential. Our work with the new sprinkler system so far has shown several positives in comparison to standard sprinklers. It is easy to set up and it can cover a larger diameter while irrigating, it is also easy to move around the farm to ensure all the plants can get the right amount of water for growth.

Collins and Martina installing a mini-pivot sprinkler for field testing

The team in the office also shared with me some other projects which they have been working on in different parts of the world and how these projects are influencing peoples’ lives. I was much impressed by the work on community water kiosk projects which are bringing safe water to some remote parts of Africa and how it has changed the lives of these communities. This made me reflect on the Futurepump SF2 pump, and the impact it is having in changing lives across the world. It was amazing to be standing in the place where it all began. From initial work done in this very workshop we have now sold more than 7000 solar water pumps to thousands of families across dozens of different countries. Each of these pumps has had the ability to change small farmers lives and I’ve spoken to several farmers who now use the solar pump to secure their farming livelihoods through access to regular irrigation.

Some solar water pump tests early in the R&D process

Feeling inspired…

To summarise my trip, the warm welcome, the motivation and team’s passion and knowledge, all these inspire me. I am also inspired to know how feedback from the field, through my role, lead to much improvement of an innovation. This feedback from customers is so important for future product development, I am encouraged to let our customers know how much we appreciate their feedback.